Though purveyors of a distinct enough aesthetic, determining the right balance of excitement and trepidation when faced with a new Brain F≠ release can be difficult.
Though purveyors of a distinct enough aesthetic, determining the right balance of excitement and trepidation when faced with a new Brain F≠ release can be difficult. The former because the band’s previous releases have been solid and energetic – raw enough that it could appeal to the type of person who would have an opinion on whether Wind Of Pain was Japan’s Age Of Quarrel but possessing enough of a twitchy catchiness that it could also find a receptive audience with the type of person who would find some way to take umbrage at Pitchfork’s year-end lists. The latter because one wonders what the band will do with their music. They set their sound in stone with the first two EP releases, then expanded it to a full-length without losing anything. But better bands than them have choked at the sophomore prospect and one might rightly approach Empty Set wondering what Brain F≠ might have done to propel themselves forward.
For all intents and purposes, the band really hasn’t done much at all differently. The slightly cleaner recording isn’t immediately obvious, capturing the songs in a slightly (and I mean really slightly) clearer fashion, but the intent remains mercifully unadulterated. Not hard to determine are the stylistic forebears, with shades of Teengenerate, The Bags, and Bratmobile all making themselves known. Harder to get a bead on is how the band can meld these influences as seamlessly as they do, a cohesion that allows their music to function under its own energy rather than coming off as a pastiche or a throwback.
Therein lies the greatness of Brain F≠’s craft. They can sound like any number of other bands without sounding like anybody but themselves. Almost as if their music was some patch of territory for which they had battled long and hard and from which they would not budge, they can release a succession of records that sound largely the same without seeming like their craft is in stasis. Though theirs isn’t music that exists in a vacuum, what they consistently bring into the world is cloaked in an aura of hyperactive energy and a momentum that frantically careens off the stylistic walls in which it dwells.